Florida School Grades Reflect Transition to Higher Standards The Foundaiton for Florida’s Future Remarks on State’s Progress and Goals
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Education (DOE) released grades for the state’s elementary and middle schools. Overall, Florida students and teachers again exceeded expectations – with a higher bar in place, they showed they are capable of meeting new, more globally-competitive standards.
While there was an expected, overall drop in the number of A-grade schools, a total of 47 schools received F grades, 15 more than the previous year, despite the increase in student performance standards. Out of 2,513 schools that were graded last year, 1,124 earned A-grade designations this year. More than half of schools increased their grade or received the same grade under the new standards.
“When athletes compete in the pole vault at this summer’s Olympics, they will be aiming for a bar that’s higher than their predecessors’ targets,” said Patricia Levesque, Executive Director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future. “In 1896, Olympic gold was achieved with a leap of 3.30 meters. By comparison, the 2008 Games saw a record of 5.96 meters. We expect our athletes to break their own records. Why would we not demand the same, if not more, from our students? New challenges, technology and techniques lead to new achievements. That is exactly what we want for our children.”
In addition, this year, Florida included all students into the proficiency portion of the testing calculation, including English-language learners with at least one year of instruction in English, along with students with disabilities. Including them in the achievement portion of the school grading formula gives schools an extra incentive to provide the additional assistance these students might need in order to have the opportunity to learn and achieve.
“These students can learn,” added Levesque. “Students with disabilities were added to Florida’s school grading formula growth component in the 2004-05 year, and their performance has steadily climbed since. We should expect the same to hold true in the performance category, as schools are held accountable for students with disabilities.”
Florida students have made significant academic improvements over the years, moving from third from the bottom to 11th in the country. It is because of these improvements that it was time for Florida to raise a bar that had not been elevated in a decade.
“The world is constantly changing,” Levesque continued. “We must work to ensure tomorrow’s graduates are equipped for success in a global economy. History shows that every time the bar has gone up, student learning has gone up as well.”
Florida’s new standards are part of a bigger, long-term plan to ensure Sunshine State students are well-positioned for the Common Core State Standards, which will take effect in the 2014-15 school year. Described as “fewer, higher, and clearer,” these new standards were developed by the Sunshine State and 45 other states for English-Language Arts and Math. Common Core State Standards are benchmarked to international standards and aligned with college-entrance and employee expectations.
“Florida is in its own race to the top, and we have to raise the bar,” concluded Levesque. “In a changing world filled with careers that increasingly require critical thinking and problem-solving skills, we need to help all Florida students rise to higher standards that will prepare them for success.”
For more information about how Florida is leading the nation in education, visit www.AFloridaPromise.org. Florida parents are encouraged to visit http://parents.fldoe.org/join to sign up for direct updates from the Florida Department of Education. Links: 1. http://www.AFloridaPromise.org
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### The Foundation for Florida’s Future, a public policy organization led by former Governor Jeb Bush, is advancing reforms to make education in Florida a model for the nation. Visit www.AFloridaPromise.org to learn more about the Foundation for Florida’s Future’s efforts to reform education for the 21st century.
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